- Laurel Fay
Lyric-dramatic opera in three acts by Zakhary Petrovich Paliashvili to a libretto by V. Guniya after verses by Shota Rustaveli, N. Baratashvili, Akvsenti Tsereteli and Vazha Pshavela; Tbilisi, Georgian National Opera House, 19 December 1923.
Paliashvili’s second opera, Twilight was the first opera to appear in Soviet Georgia and draws on motifs from Georgian folk legends. Set in late 18th-century Georgia, the story combines romantic and heroic themes, effectively playing off the dramatic conflict between love and patriotic duty. As in his earlier Abesalom da Eteri (‘Abesalom and Etery’), Paliashvili fused features of his Georgian musical heritage – characteristic modal inflections, genre writing, melismatic vocal lines and ornamentation – into a harmonically traditional structure inherited from 19th-century Russian opera. The poetic expressivity of the melodies, with their exotic flavour, has contributed significantly to the opera’s continued popularity.
In a courtyard at dusk Nano (mezzo-soprano) looks forward eagerly to the approaching holiday, but her friend Maro (soprano) is subdued. While her beloved, Malkhaz (tenor), has been away in distant lands, Maro has become betrothed to the military officer Kiazo (baritone), whom she does not love. Nano gives her the good news that Malkhaz has returned, and his carefree song is heard in the distance. When the lovers meet, Maro is sad and distracted; she confesses to Malkhaz that she has become betrothed to another. The peasants begin their festivities, and Nano ensures that Maro and Malkhaz are included in the dancing, observed by the elderly Tsangala (bass) who threatens to tell Kiazo. Nano chases him away. As evening falls, church bells summon the people to the festival. Malkhaz tries to detain Maro, but she runs away....